How do you pray? Do you pray out of a sense of grudging duty? Do you pray out of a sense of need. Do you pray out of a sense of seriousness and sternness. Or do you perhaps pray, as the Apostle Paul told the Philippians he prays out of a attitude of joy?
How can we not joyfully pray, when we know, we are talking to the God who listens? How can we not joyfully pray, when we are talking to the lover of our souls. How can we not joyfully pray, when we know….
There have been times in my life, when I have not joyfully prayed. There have been times in my life when I have prayed out of a deep, bottomless, dark pressure chamber of joylessness and hopelessness. My prayers had not one micro ounce of joy – and instead were filled with desperation, a desperation stemming out of of tremendous heartache and pain.
There was a time when I was in this dark, bottomless pressure chamber of joylessness. I stood in the doorway of my room and beat my chest. I asked the Lord to restore my joy. I asked him to fill me with the joy of the Lord once again. I have only realized this morning, that yesterday was the 7th year celebration or commemoration of the day I collapsed on the farm – an event which was to begin the journey of darkness and the isolating sense of abandonment.
And this is the rub. Joylessness comes about when we feel God has abandoned us. When we feel he has forsaken us. Grief, pain and heart ache can be so personally intense – that no matter who is around us – we can feel utterly devastated and abandoned. And Jesus knew this feeling of abandonment – during his own trial and tribulation on the cross – in the midst of his pain, heartache and grief – he cried out, “Why, Why, have you abandoned me?”
On the 16th of October 2007, I was in my bedroom reading one of the passages in Peter, which said, for now you go through various trials and tribulations for the refining of and proving the genuineness of your faith. At that time, it felt like the tangible presence of God filled my room and I was crying on my bed – having a deep sense that something was about to happen. The next day at work, as I lay on the ground, high fever and paralyzed on the right side – that passage of Scripture echoed in my mind.
What a stark difference of experience I had the other night on the 16th of October 2014. I was kneeling at the couch. Praying to my Lord and savior. And one of our dogs came up and gave me a sniff and a cuddle. It looked like he was praying as he came beside me, and put his paws on the couch. I told him to sit, and get down. Which he did – only for him to come and lay across the back of my legs as I continued trying to pray. And I lost it. I started to laugh. Laughter came out of the deep recesses of my inner being. Every fiber of my body started to laugh. And I ended up sitting on the floor, laughing, while holding my dog for a few short minutes.
In reflecting on my experiences I know without a doubt, that Jesus took onto himself the abandonment, grief, heartache and pain that I had suffered, and that his cries were the intercessory cries for myself and not just for myself, for all of humanity. And I can’t help but reflect – in the same way, that God was looking down on my dog and I the other night and was laughing with us.